We’re all bloggers these days, aren’t we?  Writing, consuming, they’ve become a part of the fabric of our routine information gathering and communication.  The phenomena’s become an easy filler article for the weekend papers.  Taken over from the manuscript in the bottom drawer.  Hasn’t it?  Work we want to do, so we just do it?  As a sociologist of work, both paid and unpaid, blogging holds a special allure.  And in the spirit of ethnography – or something like that – having become a part of the blogging community over the past year, I’m just starting to get an idea of the labour invested in these living documents so often dismissed as hobbies, vanity projects.

Even the word blogging is misleading, implying a single type of writing, when it runs the gamut from hobbyists, to professionals writing to promote or complement their work, comedians, confessionals, creative, commercial bloggers and professional bloggers – those elusive writers who have turned it into a profitable career status; a fraction of the estimated 152 million blogs out there (Gallie, 2013).  It’s a type of work that sociology can’t ignore – littered with examples of career transitions, cultural resistance, and some of the most creative re-imaginings of work that I’ve ever seen.  Here we have examples of training and skills development, networking and workplace relations, the spatiality of working, and entrepreneurism.  But also of collaboration and mentoring, care and emotion work – aspects of blogging that are neglected, to the loss of sociology.

Bloggers are not just writers, they are website-developers, audience-builders, SEO experts, counsellors and peer reviewers, and they move through these statuses fluidly and without need for job description, or very often payment.  As their income increases, so too their blogging work changes and evolves.  It might focus on a niche, like reviewing for example, and become less of a personal document.  And then there is the blurring of the boundaries between work and home – rare is the blogger who isn’t tinkering with their blog as an ongoing, endless project; building a social media presence that extends far beyond their blog; commenting on blogs late into the night; delving into and out of posts in construction; checking their phones for statistics; checking out stories and new ideas to generate or underpin new posts.

It is a different experience of writing – not the solitary literary writing, nor too the academic writing where toiled-upon words are subject to critical review, redrafting and redrafting.  Not so much review, as labour in dialogue.  Because bloggers are readers as much as they are writers, and ICT has changed the way we consume, and transmit that consumption.  Blogging is writing in process, a shaking of the self and allowing still-forming ideas to be released and for a dialogue to develop.  The unfinished, a narrative.  Writing as exercise, writing to be heard, writing with a purpose, writing to give wings to projects to fly out into the world.  It seems experimental and exciting, this diversity of work practices.  If the content stops flowing the blog falls silent, the URL a footprint documenting labour past.

 

Reference

Gallie, B. (2013). How many blogs are on the internet? Available: http://www.wpvirtuoso.com/how-many-blogs-are-on-the-internet/.